Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Entered to Win a Free Whatever!

Selection from Mark Gregory & Company, sterling silver and pave diamond with 14K gold accents, 
earrings and bracelet. White pearl necklace 47" with lobster clasp.

Social media is inundated with enter to win contests. It’s simple, someone sees a contest and all they have to do is fill out a short form to be entered in the contest. These contests give away everything from free make-up to hand knitted sweaters. Because I am currently going through a spam mail aversion period, I’ve become reluctant to enter. My mother in law is a computer phobic, yet she loves a good contest. She doesn’t use the computer we gave her very often and in fact, it sits on her desk turned off most of the time. She told me once that she couldn’t find the email I sent her because her inbox was so full. Turns out she has entered a bunch of home improvement contests and they were all spamming her.

This is why I am afraid to enter a contest. It’s not that I don’t want a chance to win a trip to Hawaii or a free manicure; I just don’t know what they will do with my email after I enter. On the other end of the spectrum, do these contests work? Does a free giveaway get you any more customers? Does requesting information that a potentially loyal customer would be reluctant to give scare them away? Who enters these contests and what is their main motivation? As you can see, I’m full of questions. These contests are so anonymous that they scare me from a retail perspective.

When someone walks into a store and looks at your jewelry they are at least a little interested in what you have for sale, otherwise they probably wouldn’t have walked in. If they stay long enough for you to start a conversation, they are probably more interested. If you are offering a contest in store, you can interest them in relinquishing some information for a chance to win. It makes sense. But on the internet, are you really reaching your target audience? The internet is a scary place based on its massive size. I have people in other countries reading my blog. They don’t comment, but they read. This is a problem with the internet, anonymity. No one knows anyone else and sometimes it’s hard to understand the motivation that gets someone to give you their email address. If anyone has the answer to this puzzle, I would love to have it.

If the motivation to enter a contest is to get something for free I would never get any good leads from those who enter a contest via the internet or social media. This example contestant enters because there is the prospect of getting something free and free is good. They are hopeful that their name will be drawn and they will get that free amazing whatever. This is not my target market, those who want something for free. While I am not opposed to giving away something in order to stir up a little interest, I want to make sure that I get something in return. Yes, this does sound mercenary, but isn’t this the point of a contest?

A contest is trying to create interest in the retailer, gather potential customer lists or introduce a new product. It’s all the potentially bad side effects that I am trying to avoid, such as no strong leads and giving something to someone I will never see again. I suppose at some point I may have to jump into the contest pool, but for now I think I sit on the side lines and continue to watch the game.

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